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As a side issue, am I the only one who thinks (even electronic) organs voiced in the 'American Classic' style always sound so angry when played f or ff? I put it down to those quasi French reeds with all the snarl and attack but no genuine richness of tone.

I agree. I don't think it's just the reeds, though; they are complemented by Great diapason choruses that are a touch "hard-edged" too. I think the word I would use to describe these organs (at least at the louder end) is "brash".

 

It would never have occurred to me to compare Hexham Abbey to an Allen, but I have never heard it live. I shall go and re-listen to my CD of it.

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No music here, but some interesting points???

 

=====================

 

All well and good, but I would love Cameron Carpenter to stay with me :) and then, in the morning, I would feed him; having first asked my top-chef friend to prepare exotic French cuisine.

 

Mr Carpenter would then say, as all polite Americas do, "This is delicious!"

 

I would then ask, "I'm glad you think so; as do I. Do you think we should ask the chef how he created it, or should we just let the secret die with him?"

 

MM

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I agree. I don't think it's just the reeds, though; they are complemented by Great diapason choruses that are a touch "hard-edged" too. I think the word I would use to describe these organs (at least at the louder end) is "brash".

 

It would never have occurred to me to compare Hexham Abbey to an Allen, but I have never heard it live. I shall go and re-listen to my CD of it.

 

=====================

 

 

If I had a small wooden mallet, I would come and tap the pair of you gently on the head. :)

 

Watch this space....I shall dig up some interesting sounds for you; all from America.

 

MM

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Yes, I am genuinely grateful to you for drawing our attention to it.

He comes across as a thoroughly intelligent and perceptive man - almost frighteningly so. Certainly his technique frightens me!

I'm still happy that I revere the genuine article and take all its restrictions as part of my art. (whoops - 'pretentious, moi?')

 

The world is large enough to take diametrically opposing opinions on anything artistic, and there is no question at all, love him or hate him, Cameron Carpenter is not a player to be ignored. Mind you, he is not 'competition' to any of us while he is playing (largely) music that we don't want to play in arrangements we don't have on organs we don't care for!

 

As a side issue, am I the only one who thinks (even electronic) organs voiced in the 'American Classic' style always sound so angry when played f or ff? I put it down to those quasi French reeds with all the snarl and attack but no genuine richness of tone. I used to think it was one of the limitations of the electronic organ technology until I played the organ at Hexham Abbey and found there the pipe organ equivalent (tone for tone) of an Allen. Then I remembered, Lawrence Phelps was at one time a tonal director for Allens!

 

=========================

 

 

 

I absolutely agree with "cynic" with regards to Cameron Carpenter, and we could probably open up a useful thread on virtuoso, showman organists, except that CC is far more than just that. He is also a brilliant improviser, a composer, a light musician, a classical musician, a musical philosopher, an activist/campaigner, distinctly intense and not a little intimidating. In terms of technique, I suspect that he started where Virgil Fox finished......an absolute phenomenon.

 

With regard to the "American Classic" organ, I can't speak with absolute authority, but from what I have thus far managed to learn, this style of instrument evolved fromn two sources: firstly the work of E M Skinner, and the very significant re-build of the Walcker organ at Methuen.

 

Indeed, the German influence extended to the musical establishment, and especially so in the organ-world.

 

I suppose the nearest equivalent to what happened at Methuen has to be the organ at Doncaster PC, which "cynic" will know well. Though much of the original Schulze remains more or less as built, the reeds are generally anything but original, and in re-building both Methuen and Doncaster, two very different organ-builders "improved" the reeds. (A great success musically, it has to be said, in each case).

 

Long before the "Aerican Classic," the American organists had got used to the idea of heavy-pressure reeds and those chamades, which had originally arrived via the American branch of Jardine, and probably inspired by Gray & Davison and their early use of horizontal reeds.

 

G Donald Harrison was a remarkable organ-builder, and although an ex-Willis man, he carved his own niche tonally; turning his back on Willis fluework in preference to T C Lewis, but incorporating Willis style reeds. The English equivalent would have been to add "Father" Willis reeds to the Doncaster Schulze, rather the more traiditionally "English" reeds of Norman & Beard.

 

If the "American Classic" sounds angry and "brash" to some ears, then it is that very combination of bold chorus-work and fiery reed-tone, which would not be out of place in Hungary and the Czech Republic. It also shares much with what Steinmeyer were doing in Germany.

 

It isn't just the reeds which contribute to the overall effect, but also the generous amount of upperwork, which usually extends to the Choir/Positif organs also. So in addition to "quasi-French" reeds, there is also great brilliance; possibly as a reaction to the American "reform" movement, headed by such as E Power Biggs and others who sought a more classical style.

 

Of course, the musical effect is not helped in many American churches, which often lack a good acoustic, with heavily carpeted floors etc. This accentuates the brilliance of the upperwork and reeds, and having heard a fair number of organs in America when I was over there, this is quite a common problem. Fiery chamades can sound fairly offensive in such an acoustic environment.

 

Whether one likes or loathes the "American Classic" sound, there is no doubt but that this was the fashionable, progressive route which gained many admirers. I like it too, but only when the acoustic is generous enough to carry this type of sound.

 

It's interesting to compare the organ at St.John-the-Divine, New York, with the organ of Liverpool Cathedral; both speaking into immense acoustics/buildings. The New York instrument, as re-built by G Donald Harrison, tips more than a passing nod to T C Lewis, whilst Liverpool has more than a grain of Schulze in its musical constitution. (T V Lewis very much a disciple of Schulze, of course).

 

I know that Prof.Ian Tracey likes the New York instrument a great deal, but he believes that Liverpool has the edge musically. I'm inclined to that view also, but that isn't to say that I do not regard St John-the-Divine, New York, as a masterpiece.

 

What I do know, is that the "State Trumpet" remains absolutely peerless, and in a class of its own for sheer effect in the building. It needs to be heard live, and once heard, it is not easily forgotten.

 

The problem is, with digital instruments, they are the acceptable face of compromise; the Americans liking the "American Classic" sound replicated by Allen Organs, and the English preferring the "Harrison & Harrison" sound as replicated by Makin Organs. Personally, I would opt for the Hauptwerk set up sampled from the Rieger-Kloss organ in the Palace of the Ars, Budapest, Hungary.

 

What I can say with certainty, is that America has a vast range of instruments; from very old organs to very modern organs, and when it comes to tonal and mechanical innovatiom, they are probably leading the world right now.

 

Anyway, I hope the fairly extensive list will give just a brief survey of what one might find in America, and which I enjoyed enormously, having played quite a few organs, from E M Skinner, Fisk, Larry Phelps and many others. I wish I culd afford to trot over and play some of the newer instruments, which seem to me to be remarkable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

</a>

 

 

 

 

 

And if anyone thinks that innovation is dead, the following links are fascinating:-

 

 

 

 

MM

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I am very found of the baroque french music, because it is crammed

with deep-meaning meditations you need an handkerchief nearby before

listening to it:

 

 

(The singing part is from Du Mont, the organ part from A. Raison)

 

Pierre

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Try

for period instruments.

(You know, I hate that edit in the pedal -- D, A, Bb, A, that's not music!)

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Try
for period instruments.

(You know, I hate that edit in the pedal -- D, A, Bb, A, that's not music!)

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

There is a church near here with a digital that sounds like this!

 

A

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Weirdly creepy - pipes that move!

 

 

A

 

 

Some years ago, a little before Nicholsons' restored Gloucester Cathedral organ, I was in a lunch group at a Cathedral Organists' Association conference when David Briggs was outlining the ideas for the work. He mentioned that they were considering the addition of a big solo reed, but placing it was a problem, including in which direction it should fire - down the Nave or up the Quire.

 

Someone suggested it should be on a turntable - actually, not the daftest idea I've ever heard....

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Some years ago, a little before Nicholsons' restored Gloucester Cathedral organ, I was in a lunch group at a Cathedral Organists' Association conference when David Briggs was outlining the ideas for the work. He mentioned that they were considering the addition of a big solo reed, but placing it was a problem, including in which direction it should fire - down the Nave or up the Quire.

 

Someone suggested it should be on a turntable - actually, not the daftest idea I've ever heard....

Indeed! It was Ian Fox's idea (DoM, King's School). Chamade on a turntable. We liked it! However, the eventual (and considerably simpler) solution seems to satisfy, as you can all hear at the moment on iPlayer in Parry's F&F in G, beautifully played by Ashley Grote.

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Some years ago, a little before Nicholsons' restored Gloucester Cathedral organ, I was in a lunch group at a Cathedral Organists' Association conference when David Briggs was outlining the ideas for the work. He mentioned that they were considering the addition of a big solo reed, but placing it was a problem, including in which direction it should fire - down the Nave or up the Quire.

 

Someone suggested it should be on a turntable - actually, not the daftest idea I've ever heard....

 

I had thought about this possibility before for use in a 'two-way facing' organ, such as those on screens. I had always thought of it as just a 'pipe dream' (if you'll pardon the pun), but it now seems a distinct possibility. In my opinion it could be quite a useful feature and could, for example, serve recitals in either nave or chancel or even as an echo effect as was often found in Spanish organs with a trompeteria facing into the aisle.

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.....................with a trompeteria facing into the aisle.

 

...or to shoot a lurking flower 'monitor' or meddlesome verger!

 

A

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Another bit of thuringian, Bach-organ sound ?

Enjoy the string here:

 

 

(I would like to hear the Trio sonatas on that one!)

 

Pierre

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A rarity: a 1938 Oscar Walcker organ:

 

 

The Adagio is the most interesting by far (and also musically as well!), hear

that voicing.....

 

Pierre

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A rarity: a 1938 Oscar Walcker organ:

 

 

The Adagio is the most interesting by far (and also musically as well!), hear

that voicing.....

 

Pierre

 

There is not enough string tone for my liking; this is too bland. In addition, I would prefer a stronger gradation of tone. In the quieter moments, the Pedal solo (which sounds like a 4ft. Diapason) is a little too loud. It needs a good, rounded flute timbre for this solo, in order to contrast with the keen(er) string timbre of the clavier.

 

A nice acoustic ambience, though.

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Another bit of thuringian, Bach-organ sound ?

Enjoy the string here:

 

 

(I would like to hear the Trio sonatas on that one!)

 

Pierre

 

I must confess that I was not keen on this. There are some odd initial transients. I found the string - well, I will use the word 'scratchy' (but not in the Arthur Harrison sense). The timbre varied on almost every note. I know that this will be a positive point for some - but not for me, I am afraid. I know that it is futile to compare this type of string voicing with ranks by Thynne - or even Henry Willis III, but I found that it grated after a short time.

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I must confess that I was not keen on this. There are some odd initial transients. I found the string - well, I will use the word 'scratchy' (but not in the Arthur Harrison sense). The timbre varied on almost every note. I know that this will be a positive point for some - but not for me, I am afraid. I know that it is futile to compare this type of string voicing with ranks by Thynne - or even Henry Willis III, but I found that it grated after a short time.

 

============================

 

 

If this were in Italy, I may be tempted into wondering of this wasn't one of the organs on which John Compton conducted his tonal experiments.

 

Im sorry Pierre, but I just think it's horrible.

 

I can#t imagine Bach beating a path to the church door.

 

Are you sure that's a string?

 

Could it be the Traverse Flute, because those pipes are overblowing slightly, and sound quite close to an orchestral flute being plaued badly.

 

MM

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There is not enough string tone for my liking; this is too bland. In addition, I would prefer a stronger gradation of tone. In the quieter moments, the Pedal solo (which sounds like a 4ft. Diapason) is a little too loud. It needs a good, rounded flute timbre for this solo, in order to contrast with the keen(er) string timbre of the clavier.

 

A nice acoustic ambience, though.

 

This is a 1938 organ. This means, already "orgelbewegt"'; and what were the first stops that this fashion

suppressed from the Specifications ? The 8' open Flutes !

 

(Addenda) That there is no 8' open Flute on the first manual you can guess from the voicing of the Gamba

played against the Vox coelestis here.....

 

Pierre

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============================

 

 

If this were in Italy, I may be tempted into wondering of this wasn't one of the organs on which John Compton conducted his tonal experiments.

 

Im sorry Pierre, but I just think it's horrible.

 

I can#t imagine Bach beating a path to the church door.

 

Are you sure that's a string?

 

Could it be the Traverse Flute, because those pipes are overblowing slightly, and sound quite close to an orchestral flute being plaued badly.

 

MM

 

It is indeed a Traversflöte (overblowing), but with string's attacks. There are such stops in any Trost

organ as well.

 

Pierre

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Now I come back to this very interesting point:

 

"The timbre varied on almost every note."

(Quote)

 

......And *gerade* (precisely, straight) this IS the baroque organ, even when it is crammed

with foundation stops. The scales you cannot understand with beautiful Excell presentations,

because they are completely empiric, taylored for each situation, each church. Whenever

there is any "rule" behind those scales, they can rely on some kind of "magic thinking"

like "sacred numbers" and so on, a "sense of proportions" that lies completely outside

of any modern "logic".

Most of the time -with, again, the exception of Silbermann and some of his followers- we deal

always here with "mixed scalings", that is, you'd get several distincts "curves" on your Excell file.

Accordingly, the tone varies through the compass.

Is it a fault ? To the eyes of any romantic builder, yes, without doubt. But in polyphonic music

this is quite useful. It is surprising nobody criticize Schnitger organs, which are exactly the same

for that matter.

 

And yes, this is the kind of "awkward things" Bach assessed and played.....

 

Pierre

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